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Flamboyantly fanciful and so much fun!

Matt Katz is the owner of Kat Hats Incorporated, a training facility where a cat can be “patiently taught to arrange itself on the head of a person as a living headpiece.”

When Thirdbeard’s elderly mother, Chickarina, goes missing on a snowy evening, he enlists the help of Matt Katz. Thirdbeard fears that his Mommy, who happens to be a nice, harmless witch, will suffer from brain freeze since she was last seen eating “an extra-large jumbo frozen fruitsicle, blueberry and avocado flavor,” and walking hatless up a steep mountain known as Witch's Spitz. Luckily, Matt's beloved and most successful kat hat, Thermal Herman 6⅞ths, has only just returned from a trip to Nepal. With one look from Matt, Thermal Herman 6⅞ths rushes out into the falling night. Aided by a madcap motorcyclist and a random moose who is “using his antlers as a hat rack” for some unspecified reason, the plucky cat saves Chickarina and brings her home, warmly hatted. This zany picture book is delightfully replete with straight-faced nonsense and atypical characters, many of whom have green skin and long, pointy noses. White, androgynous Matt wears colorful, mismatched socks and is husband to the always-fly, brown-skinned Glamorella, whose clothing and hairstyle change in every scene. Their son, Pocketmouse, is an aspiring magician who happens to use a wheelchair, and their daughter, Lambkin, wears a jester’s costume and is forever performing circus tricks. The bright and busy gouache illustrations are chock-full of offbeat, whimsical details that tell parallel stories of their own. (This review has been updated for factual accuracy.)

Flamboyantly fanciful and so much fun! (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 11, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-4197-5194-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Dec. 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2021

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Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among

Pete, the cat who couldn’t care less, celebrates Christmas with his inimitable lassitude.

If it weren’t part of the title and repeated on every other page, readers unfamiliar with Pete’s shtick might have a hard time arriving at “groovy” to describe his Christmas celebration, as the expressionless cat displays not a hint of groove in Dean’s now-trademark illustrations. Nor does Pete have a great sense of scansion: “On the first day of Christmas, / Pete gave to me… / A road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” The cat is shown at the wheel of a yellow microbus strung with garland and lights and with a star-topped tree tied to its roof. On the second day of Christmas Pete gives “me” (here depicted as a gray squirrel who gets on the bus) “2 fuzzy gloves, and a road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” On the third day, he gives “me” (now a white cat who joins Pete and the squirrel) “3 yummy cupcakes,” etc. The “me” mentioned in the lyrics changes from day to day and gift to gift, with “4 far-out surfboards” (a frog), “5 onion rings” (crocodile), and “6 skateboards rolling” (a yellow bird that shares its skateboards with the white cat, the squirrel, the frog, and the crocodile while Pete drives on). Gifts and animals pile on until the microbus finally arrives at the seaside and readers are told yet again that it’s all “GROOVY!”

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-267527-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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From the Diary of an Ice Princess series

A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre.

Ice princess Lina must navigate family and school in this early chapter read.

The family picnic is today. This is not a typical gathering, since Lina’s maternal relatives are a royal family of Windtamers who have power over the weather and live in castles floating on clouds. Lina herself is mixed race, with black hair and a tan complexion like her Asian-presenting mother’s; her Groundling father appears to be a white human. While making a grand entrance at the castle of her grandfather, the North Wind, she fails to successfully ride a gust of wind and crashes in front of her entire family. This prompts her stern grandfather to ask that Lina move in with him so he can teach her to control her powers. Desperate to avoid this, Lina and her friend Claudia, who is black, get Lina accepted at the Hilltop Science and Arts Academy. Lina’s parents allow her to go as long as she does lessons with grandpa on Saturdays. However, fitting in at a Groundling school is rough, especially when your powers start freak winter storms! With the story unfurling in diary format, bright-pink–highlighted grayscale illustrations help move the plot along. There are slight gaps in the storytelling and the pacing is occasionally uneven, but Lina is full of spunk and promotes self-acceptance.

A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre. (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-35393-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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